The Liberal government of Canada has formulated a new program to which all universities are expected to commit. It is called “Dimensions: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.” A “Charter” for “Dimensions” has been distributed to all university presidents, who are urged to sign, endorsing the program for their universities.
Minister for Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan launched this program, using the “independent” funding councils—The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), The National Science and Engineering Council (NSERC), and The Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)—as the conduit for “Dimensions” grants. This is not the first time that Minister Duncan has imposed “equity, diversity, and inclusion” conditions for grants; in 2017, new diversity criteria were enunciated for the Canada Research Chair grants.
The pressure continues through subsequent grant years. Minister Duncan says, “Our government is committed to promoting equity and diversity within research and to supporting the next generation of research leaders.” Ted Hewitt, president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and chair of the Canada Research Chairs Program Steering Committee assures us that they have “A strong action plan to address equity, diversity and inclusion.”
What is this “equity, diversity, and inclusion” in aid of? According to the Charter of the Dimensions program, the objective is “to foster increased research excellence, innovation and creativity within the post-secondary sector across all disciplines.” Who could object to “increased research excellence, innovation, and creativity,” which is the conventional and legitimate objective of research administrators? What is new here is the means by which these results would be allegedly brought about: “through increased equity, diversity and inclusion.”
According to the Charter, “The post-secondary research community has the greatest potential to thrive when members experience equitable, inclusive and unbiased systems and practices.” The NSERC press release announcing the Dimensions program claims that “Evidence clearly shows that increasing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in research environments enhances excellence, innovation and creativity.” In fact, no such evidence is adduced or cited, and readers should be skeptical of unsubstantiated claims. Without evidence, it would be prudent to assume that the asserted relationship is fabricated and imaginary.
What does “equity, diversity, and inclusion” mean in practice? It means that certain categories of people must favoured in academic competitions, while unfavoured categories of people must be excluded. The favoured must be put up for grants, or else the grants would not be forthcoming; conversely, unfavoured categories of people must be excluded from the competition, or else the grants would not be forthcoming.
How are favoured and unfavoured categories of people decided? According to the Charter:
To advance institutional equity, diversity and inclusion, specific, measurable and sustainable actions are needed to counter systemic barriers, explicit and unconscious biases, and inequities. This includes addressing obstacles faced by, but not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minority or racialized groups, and members of LGBTQ2+ communities.
The theory of “systemic barriers,” much loved by sociologists, attributes the different distributions of categories of people in society to prejudice and discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and ethnicity. A “social justice,” equitable, diverse, and inclusive distribution would be for each gender, race, and ethnic group to be represented in every department, faculty, and university, in every list of competition winners, in every new hire, according to its exact percentage in the general population.
The theory of “systemic barriers” assumes that there is no material difference among people in regard to motivation, preferences, abilities, and commitments, and that all differences in statistical representation are the result of prejudice and discrimination. This is clearly false. One kind of evidence is the impressive statistical overrepresentation in prestigious fields by members of unpopular minorities, such as African Americans in professional sports, and East Asians and Jews in academia and other professions, which clearly was not the result of prejudice and discrimination against whites, people of European descent, and Christians.
Another kind of evidence is the poor school performances of some minorities, at least partly due to cultural inclinations and social pathologies of crime and single parent families.
A third kind of evidence is the differential preferences of members of different categories. Despite the full court press on the part of universities and professional organizations to recruit females to science and engineering, they remain heavily “underrepresented,” in spite of discrimination in favour of females and against males. Where females are free to choose, they choose social sciences, social work, law, or medicine, anything but natural science or engineering. The is true not only in North America, but in the feminist countries of Sweden and Norway, where fewer females choose science and engineering than anywhere in the world.
A fourth kind of evidence is the poor results of decades of so-called “affirmative action,” discrimination in favour of “underrepresented” minorities. Not surprisingly, individuals from “underrepresented” minorities recruited with weak academic records, given special funding and provided with segregated “identity” housing, do poorly at university.
Thus, there are many factors that influence “underrepresentation” of certain categories of individuals that are not “systemic barriers” involving prejudice and discrimination.
Furthermore, if females are subject to “systemic barriers, explicit and unconscious biases, and inequities,” as the Charter claims, how can we explain that, according to StatsCan, “Women continue to outnumber men in most fields of study,” making up 56.2% of students, dominating in education, health, and related fields. Is it that females are discriminated against in funding? To take one important example, females account for 60% of the awardees in the Canada 150 Research Chairs Program. How can we explain why 56.2% female enrolment and 60% of female chairholders are not sufficient “equity, diversity, and inclusion,” requiring, according to the Dimensions program, even more places and benefits to females?
The frantic search for First Nations students to recruit and First Nations professors to hire is seen in universities all across Canada. The main problem is the paucity of candidates. My own department made offers to three First Nations individuals, but was rebuffed. Still, the search goes on, and posts designated for First Nations individuals are closed to others.
Along with all of the wonderful inclusion of females, people of colour, First Nations, LGBT+, Muslims, etc., there is a necessary corollary: exclusion of people in other categories. The exclusion of males in favour of females begins early, in schools now devoted to feminism that discriminate against males. Under the guise of “diversity,” females are favoured in university admission and funding, and also in hiring, even though they are already in a large majority. The few fields in which men are prevalent, science, math, and engineering, are now targeted for recruiting females to replace males. Will “diversity” be satisfied when universities are 70% female, 80% female, or when males are totally excluded?
“Inclusion” of First Nations individuals is fine, but when they are exclusively included, there is no room for others. For all of the student and faculty positions dedicated to First Nations, the following (and others) are excluded: Cambodian-Canadians, Vietnamese-Canadians, Mongolians, Koreans, Chinese, Fijians, Hawaiians, Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisian-Canadians, Turks, Syrians, Arabians, Iranian-Canadians, Pakistanis, Malians, Nigerians, Kenyans, Congolese, South Africans, Greeks, Italian-Canadians, Germans, French, et al.; you get the picture. Inclusion for the favoured few means exclusion for the rest.
And what about those pesky overrepresented categories of people? To make room for the “underrepresented,” do we now put quotas limiting the number of people from overrepresented categories, the way Harvard has done with East Asian Americans? And as McGill and other institutions did in the past to keep out Jews?
The “equity, diversity, and inclusion” ideology, often labelled “social justice,” is based on a neo-Marxist analysis of society that posits class conflict between various census categories of individuals: females vs. males, people of colour vs. whites, LGBT+ vs. heterosexuals, Muslims vs. Christians and Jews, First Nations vs. colonial settlers, etc., in which females, people of colour, LGBT+, Muslims, and First Nations have been oppressed, exploited, and victimized respectively by males, whites, heteros, Christians and Jews, and colonial settlers throughout all of history. “Social justice” theory thus portrays “the oppressors” as evil and deserving to be overthrown and marginalized. “Social justice” discourse thus vilifies “toxic” males, “racist” whites, etc., and “social justice” policies are aimed at turning the oppression tables by replacing males with females, whites with non-whites, and so on. That is why a supermajority of females is still “equity,” and “diversity” is limited to preferred genders, races, sexualities, and ethnicities. And why the “dead white men” who created Western culture and built Western Civilization should, according to “social justice” advocates, be boycotted.
“Social justice” ideology is highly illiberal, in that it treats people not as individuals but as members of worldwide categories. In the name of “justice,” it treats all men as if they are the same, all whites as if they are the same, all “colonial settlers” as if they are the same, because, so the story goes, by means of their social structural position, they all have power and “privilege.” And all women, non-whites, and LGBT+ are the same, all victims! And although “social justice” claims that members of victim categories cannot be racists, sexist, or bigoted, because they have no power (sic), what is “social justice” but reverse racism, reverse sexism, and bigotry toward unfavoured categories of people?
If the goal of the government’s Dimensions program is “to foster increased research excellence, innovation and creativity,” is the best means really to pick people by their reproductive plumbing, skin colour, sexual preference, religion, and ethnicity? Should not research-related criteria be the basis of selecting students and professors? When I was admitting students and hiring professors, I was interested in their grades, test scores, letters of reference, publications, statements of research interest, and I always picked the best in academic merit, irrespective of their reproductive plumbing, skin colour, sexual preference, religion, and ethnicity. I would have felt it to be absolutely wrong, as well as counterproductive, if anyone had suggested it, to give any consideration to these non-academic, racial, gender, etc., factors.
There is a kind of “diversity” that I do support strongly: intellectual diversity and diversity of opinion. It is only through the confrontation of different views, interpretations, and theories, together with evidentiary substantiation or refutation, that knowledge increases and improves. “Social justice,” with its “equity, diversity, and inclusion” of race, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity, has no room for diversity of opinion. No demonstration of that could be better than the Dimensions Charter Principles dictated by the Canadian government to all universities.